Sports & Fitness

Eat your way to a healthier life

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First it was the cabbage soup diet. Then the grapefruit diet. After those went the way of all fad diets, the Atkins diet came along soon to be followed by the South Beach Diet. And then, of course, there#s the low-carb craze perpetuated by the Atkins diet # low-carb pizzas, low-carb Big Macs, low-carb ice cream, low-carb Pepsi. Soon we#ll have low-carb water!

With more than 130 million Americans overweight, according

to the American Heart Association (AHA), it#s no wonder people are

trying anything and everything to lose weight. Each year, an estimated 300,000 adults die of causes related to obesity.

When you consider what Americans consume on a daily basis and our sedentary lifestyles, it#s not so surprising that obesity, defined as too much body fat, is becoming such a problem. The AHA reports that more than 38 percent of Americans age 18 or older don#t even exercise, and that only 22 percent engage in light to moderate leisure time physical activity.

But before you start a new diet, make sure it#s not a fad diet # if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Here#s what to look for:

” Magic or miracle foods that burn fat

” Bizarre quantities of only one food or type of food

” Rigid menus

” Specific food combinations

” Rapid weight loss

” No warning given to people with diabetes or high blood pressure

” No increased physical activity

Fad diets may sound like a good thing, but many times they do more harm than good. Recently the AHA revised its dietary guidelines to emphasize flexible food selections, suggesting that people think about their diets over the course of the week instead of concentrating on one day. According to the AHA, the new guidelines offers flexibility in choosing foods and fits the theme of consuming a variety of foods and reduces the guilt from occasionally eating something with a high fat content.

To help you get started living a healthy life, which will help reduce your risk of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and stroke, here are some tips:

” Get active! Do some form of exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, most days of the week.

” Include at least five servings of fruit and vegetables daily.

” Plan meals to help save calories.

” Eat breakfast. It can help curb binge eating and help manage weight.

” If you lose weight gradually, you#re more likely to keep it off.

” Overweight people should get no more than 30 percent of total calories from fat.